March 16, 2014 Sunday of +St. Gregory Palamas
“On Your Cross, You annulled the curse of the Wood; in Your Burial, You destroyed the dominion of Death; and, in Your Resurrection, You shed light to the human race. Therefore, we cry out to you: O Christ, our God and Benefactor, glory to you.” (Agape Vespers- Tone 2)
Beloved Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! The above hymn, chanted joyfully on Easter Sunday, serves to reveal what lay at the heart of the celebration of our Lord’s Pascha. Amidst the flame of the Paschal candles, as we sing, “On Your Cross, You (Christ) annulled the curse of the Wood,” we affirm that our Precious Savior has released us from the power of sin (beginning with the Original Sin). The “curse of the Wood” is the “curse” that we share with fallen Adam. We began Great Lent by remembering Adam’s expulsion from Paradise. On Pascha, we celebrate our “re-entrance” into Paradise (into a life of communion with God) through Christ’s Cross.
As the hymn continues, we remember the gift that we received through our Lord’s burial. When He entered the tomb, Jesus communicated new life to all. As we proclaim, “In Your Burial, You destroyed the dominion of Death,”we are given renewed hope that death is not the end. We learn that our“goal” is to live the “new life” in Christ each day, while, at the same time, realizing that our ultimate destination will be the new and eternal life in the Kingdom of God!
The hymnographer reveals also that the freedom from sin and death brings new light to humanity (“In Your Resurrection, You shed light to the human race.”). We, like the first eyewitnesses of the Lord’s Resurrection, are called and sent to carry our Paschal candles out into the world, so that others might receive Christ through us. We do this when we share the unconditional (agape) love of Jesus with others.
As we continue our journey towards Jerusalem with our Lord, I pray that He will grant us a personal experience of these Gifts: His forgiveness; communion; light, and love- now, and always!
Yours in the Light of the Risen Christ,
+Rev. Fr. Michael Condos